The aircraft took off from Warton aerodrome in Lancashire on 29th June and was airborne for    1 hour and 40 minutes, during which time it successfully made contact with the supporting E3D Sentry aircraft and the Tactical Data Link Support Unit at RAF Waddington.  As part of a Joint Trials programme the aircraft was flown by Royal Air Force 41(R) Test and Evaluation Squadron Pilot, Squadron Leader Steve “Ras” Berry.

TIEC will enable Harrier GR9 pilots to join the digital battlefield, meaning they will be able to communicate in near real-time with other friendly forces, gaining information on the position of all friendly and hostile forces, whilst passing their own information to other participating units.

The TIEC programme will provide the RAF with an enhanced capability for both Harrier GR9s and Tornado GR4s.  It will enable the exchange of digital information in support of offensive air operations and the receipt of Situational Awareness (SA) data from in the air, on land and at sea. TIEC also reduces the risk of friendly fire incidents and enhances the ability to attack time-sensitive and time-critical targets.

Angus Currie, BAE Systems Director Harrier said: “This increase in capability for Harrier will significantly enhance Joint Force Harrier’s operations.  In an emerging era of Network Enabled Capability, it is essential for the UK’s frontline combat aircraft to be able to exploit the information provided by new, resilient, high-capability information infrastructures of which Tactical Data Link (TDL) networks, accessed through TIEC, form a key part.”

Integration of TIEC has been achieved by introducing two digital links, known as Link 16 and an Improved Data Modem using Variable Message Format (VMF).  Harrier is the first UK fast jet to fly with both these components and also integrates the Air Force
Application Program Development (AFAPD) message formats.

BAE Systems will continue to work with its technology partner General Dynamics (UK) to complete development flying of TIEC on Harrier during 2010.  This will lead to Aircraft Design Authority clearance mid 2011, resulting in the delivery of an operational capability later that year. In another first, the maiden test flight of the TIEC capability on Tornado GR4 is expected in the next few months.

Capability upgrades such as TIEC further underline the company's capabilities in the area of readiness and sustainment.

About BAE Systems
BAE Systems is a global defence, security and aerospace company with approximately 107,000 employees worldwide. The Company delivers a full range of products and services for air, land and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, security, information technology solutions and customer support services.  In 2009 BAE Systems reported sales of £22.4 billion (US$ 36.2 billion).

For more information, please contact
Andy Bunce, BAE Systems
Tel: +44 (0) 1772 852714 Mob: +44 (0)7801 716448

Kate Watcham, BAE Systems
Tel: +44(0)1252 383550 Mob: +44(0) 7793 420731